History and memories

Students of former parochial school plan unlikely gathering 40 years later

In a couple of weeks, history will be made.
That's when dozens of former students of St. Margaret School, which has been closed now for nearly four decades, will come together once again for a reunion, the likes of which are seldom seen.
From 2 to 5 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 22, the All-School Reunion will take place at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Center at 3218 W. Barrett St. to celebrate St. Margaret School, an institution that served the Queen Anne and Magnolia communities for nearly half a century.
How it came together
The idea for the reunion was initiated by some members of the Class of 1957. After contacting a few people, organizers decided to open up the event to anyone who had been part of that community. The response was wide-ranging and dozens of people associated with the school have committed to come. Alumni and alumnae from the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s (some of whom live out of state) have said that they will be coming, complete with stories and memorabilia. Eighteen of the nuns who taught at the school are still alive, and a number of them will be in attendance as well. A number of parents who are in their 80s and 90s also plan to attend, among them being Mary Jane Naehter who ran the school lunchroom for the greater part of the 50s.
Though it is small and simple for a parish church, St Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church is the oldest religious landmark on Queen Anne Hill.
Built in 1910, it was physically moved in 1914 one block south from its original location to where it now stands near 14th Avenue West and Dravus Street. In 1923, a parish school was constructed, originally staffed by three Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. The building had four classrooms in the front, each holding two grades, and offices, a chapel and living quarters for the sisters in the in the rear. For the next two decades, it was typically staffed by six sisters, four of whom were regular classroom teachers, one music instructor, a sister who served her congregation as a cook and housekeeper. During that time it served a community comprised of the Western Queen Anne, Interbay and Magnolia areas.
By the mid 40s, as World War II was drawing to a close, the school population began to increase dramatically. Many new homes were built in the West Queen Anne and Interbay areas, and on Magnolia there was a housing explosion as the old berry farms were transformed into residential neighborhoods.
To accommodate the growing population, the nuns moved from living quarters in the rear of the school to the former rectory on the other side of the church. That space was converted into a school library, offices and a couple of classrooms.
And by 1948, an addition to the school was completed, creating two more classrooms, making the old four-classroom schoolhouse into a grade school with eight classrooms.
The first-grade class that entered in 1949 had about 50 students. It appeared that the school would be bursting at the seams. In 1952, the Magnolia community was granted permission to form a new parish which would include a new school. Parish boundaries were redrawn with the top of Magnolia's first hill serving as the boundary between St Margaret's and the new parish, which would be known as Our Lady of Fatima.
In January of 1954, the new school opened and about half of the students left St. Margaret's. Parents had the option of allowing their children who had started at St Margaret's to finish there. By 1960 the transition was complete.
For the next 10 years, St Margaret's continued to function as an eight-grade elementary school. But declining enrollment, increasing expenses, and a shortage of nun-teachers forced the closing of the school in 1971, with the class of 1970 being the last graduating class. The building itself was torn down in the mid 70s and Corboy Park was created in its location, named in honor of Fr. Philip Corboy who served as pastor from 1928-71.[[In-content Ad]]